The Clean Bedroom: A Conversation with Co-founder Chris Chamberlin
Jul 01, 2015 03:24PM
● By Nicole Miale
When organic mattress and bedding retailer The Clean Bedroom opened their first showroom in Kittery, Maine in 2008 after four years of online sales, co-founder Christine Chamberlin knew it was destined to become something bigger. “We always expected it wouldn’t be small,” she says now, seven showrooms later. “My husband [company co-founder Theodore Duquette] said then, ‘When mothers find out what’s in a regular mattress, they are going to be replacing every mattress in their home.’”
When The Clean Bedroom opened that first showroom in Maine, they were the only one in the area offering sustainable, organic mattresses and bedding. Now the competition has increased, but Chamberlin welcomes the challenge and differentiates the company by offering customers education about products being sold. The company focuses on educating consumers so they can make informed purchase decisions about buying a mattress or other bedding items. Training for new and longtime team members is an ongoing process and staff is so engaged that they have brought original ideas to manufacturers which later turned out to be good sellers. “We are focused on innovating at every level,” Chamberlin says.
That approach becomes more important as larger manufacturers jump on the health-conscious bandwagon. Green-washing – the practice of marketing a product as organic or natural even when the definition applies only in the broadest sense – is now common in the bedding industry and it outrages Chamberlin. “There is no regulation,” she explains. “So a company can call its product natural even if only three percent of it is plant-based. The public is really being duped because they are paying more for something they think is better, but it’s not.”
Now The Clean Bedroom is taking their passion for clean living into the rest of the home, specifically the dining and living rooms. After a short closure, the Austin, Texas showroom reopened as The Clean Bedroom & Home after a short closure, complete with new furniture offerings. According to Chamberlin, this showroom launch is testing the next concept in growth for the company and if all goes as planned home decor will be rolled out in some other showrooms.
“Our core customer is a family with young children and we are a destination store people will travel to for an hour or more,” says Chamberlin. “People come in from the suburbs to shop at our stores because our products appeal to a specific kind of buyer. To be able to offer them furniture for the home makes us more attractive and makes their trip that much more worthwhile.”
Expanding to include living and dining room furniture presented a challenge initially because it turned out there were few manufacturers who could meet their stringent requirements for organic and sustainably sourced goods without toxic flame retardants. After a lot of research, they found a European manufacturer with experience. It’s a collaboration Chamberlin feels good about. “I want to be able to continue debunking the myths about natural and organic products,” she says. “Expanding beyond the sleep shops gives us a chance to give our customers even more options to keep their families safe and healthy.”
Nicole Miale is publisher of Natural Awakenings Fairfield County, Connecticut. Connect with her at [email protected].
The Clean Bedroom has eight showrooms across the country. The local showroom in Connecticut is located at 79 East Putnam Ave, Greenwich. For more information, call 203-292-9275 or 866-380-5892 or visit TheCleanBedroom.com. See ad, page 49.